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Jayaram Nagaraj

Astro launches digital marketing arm Blaze Digital

Astro has launched its digital marketing arm Blaze Digital to offer integrated digital-first solutions for marketers across Astro’s 21 digital brands. These brands include Malay entertainment portal Astro Gempak, news portal Astro Awani, Chinese lifestyle portal Xuan, Rojak Daily which offers entertainment and lifestyle updates, as well as 11 independent digital publications.

The team from Blaze Digital will comprise creative directors, producers and digital marketing experts and aims to provide digital marketing solutions via branded content, videos, social marketing, programmatic ads, display, as well as bespoke packages. Astro said Blaze Digital enables it to deliver digital first marketing solutions, offering personalised customer engagement and better value for marketers. It will also leverage on its advantage across TV, radio and digital.

On social media front, Astro said Blaze Digital has an average of 20 million users and a reach of over 100 million people on Facebook monthly, in which it’ll help marketers connect directly with a growing socially-connected and tech-savvy population.

“We will continue to introduce new and innovative digital content that can travel regionally to both users in Malaysia and Southeast Asia to ensure that Blaze Digital stays ahead of the curve,” said Astro, in a press statement.

Jayaram Nagaraj (pictured), general manager of Blaze Digital said, “We saw an opportunity in the market to create an independent media solution to provide better value to brands by leveraging all of Astro’s strength.”

Blaze Digital, Nagaraj said, is a local platform designed for local brands, and it has signed up popular local publishers such as Siakap Keli, Siakap Keli TV, Makchic, Nak Bebel, Tongue in Chic, Islam Itu Indah, Poskod.my, and Amanz.my, enabling these independent publishers to connect with marketers. The partnership between Blaze Digital and the 11 independent digital publishers coupled with Astro’s own digital brands, is expected to enhance content and technology opportunities as well.

“We aspire to be a key player in the digital space, as digital is currently the fastest growing category,” TH Chong, group director at Astro’s media sales said, adding that the local digital ADEX is dominated by global players at present.

On that, Chong said the company has “every intention to rise to the challenge and put together a strong Malaysian digital offering, to grow faster than the industry norm and see the local digital offering gain a significant share.”

Astro also said, as a mobile and cloud-first organisation, it has also put in place a robust data analytics system to provide marketers with the ability to match the right audience to the right content.

The launch comes hot in the heels of Astro’s financial reports where total ad spend (Adex) fell 5% year-on-year for its first quarter of its financial year, ending January 2018 (Q12018), against the backdrop of a broader market decline of 10%.

In a statement, Astro said its currently operating in a very challenging environment. This has also impacted revenues which fell 3% on-year to RM1.33billion in 1Q2018, due to lower licensing income with its B2B sports channel sub-licensing also ended. This was on top of lower subscription and home shopping revenue.

Astro said, it will continue to invest for future revenue growth by embracing three key imperatives under its digital transformation programme namely. These are digitalising its dominant legacy businesses, scaling  digital start-ups and deepening its strength in verticals and building a robust innovation pipeline.

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